The right career mentor can make the difference between rising through the ranks and staying stuck in the same position for years.

5 Reasons to Find a Career Mentor

Leadership Professional Growth

Navigating your career can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are five reasons to find a career mentor who can help you achieve your goals.

The right career mentor can make the difference between rising through the ranks and staying stuck in the same position for years. There’s a famous Carnegie Foundation study that notes that only 15 percent of job success comes from technical knowledge — the set of skills you have that allows you to perform the core function of the job. The other 85 percent of your success comes from the interpersonal and soft skills you have. Marshall Goldsmith touches on a similar concept in his best-seller What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.

Unfortunately, we rarely get training on the 85 percent. If you want to take your career to the next level, one of the very best things you can do is find a mentor that can help show you the way. Here are five things that you can gain from integrating the right career mentor into your plan:

1. Learn the What (and the How)

Passion is a great thing, but passion can also lead you to drive towards a goal so hard that you don’t realize who or what you’ve left behind until you look back after crossing the finish line. Long term, it’s those people and things that are going to hold your career back because it’s not just about what you achieve, but also how you achieve it. According to Harvard Business Review, a great mentor is able to teach you how to meet your goals in a way that brings people along with you, earning their trust, loyalty and respect, so they not only have your back this time around, but every time after that as well.

2. You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

We all have blind spots — those areas that we are just not strong in and that others can see but we have a hard time seeing ourselves. Your mentor can help you identify those blind spots. Once you’ve accepted those tough-to-acknowledge areas for improvement, you can work with your mentor to strategize and mitigate these challenges.

3. A New Perspective

There’s always more than one way to view a situation, and sometimes it’s our ability to stop our negative thought processes and flip the switch that makes all the difference. A great career mentor can be the trigger that helps you do that. They bring their own unique perspective, and may help you see what you otherwise may be missing. For instance, say you’re having trouble with your manager. You might think he’s a jerk and consider leaving for greener pastures. Your mentor may be able to push you past that initial negative reaction and help you think about what you don’t like, why you don’t like it, what you can do about it and what lessons you can learn from the situation. At the end of the day, you may still end up leaving that job, but it’s considering a different perspective and learning what you can from the situation that will make the real long-term difference in your career.

4. Abandoning Your Comfort Zone

When you’re engrossed in the day-to-day of your job, it can be easy to sink into auto-pilot and focus on doing the things that you’re most comfortable with. That’s fine for a little while, but when you’re ready to take your career to the next level, you may be asked to take on things that you haven’t done before. A great mentor can not only push you to those new heights, but will also make the journey a little less scary by being your go-to resource when navigating these new challenges.

5. Some Much-Needed Support

Perhaps the most beneficial aspect of having a great career mentor is that you know you have someone who is in your corner. Someone that you can trust because they don’t have any skin in the game, and who can tell you the hard truth when you need to hear it.

Karlyn Borysenko
Karlyn Borysenko

My goal is to make professional life better for individuals, and drive productivity and results for organizations. I fix the "people problems" and I help individuals build better working relationships across their organizations, navigate office politics, create a great organizational culture, build and lead more productive teams, and be great managers. I'm one of the few workplace bullying experts in the country and I can help individuals who have been targeted, or organizations who think they might have a bullying problem on their hands. And if you work in sales or fundraising, I can teach you how to "read" your prospects to increase your close rate and generate more revenue. I'm an MBA, a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (ABD), and a certified DiSC Trainer. I believe passionately that an organization's most valuable resource is its people, and that leaders have a responsibility to put structures, processes, and systems in place that will support employee success, development, job satisfaction, and organizational culture.